Fintan O’Toole reports from Parnell Park
THEY MAY HAVE failed in their bid to claim promotion from Division 1B but the Limerick hurlers bounced back from that disappointment to claim victory in their Division 1 Allianz hurling league quarter-final tie tonight against Dublin.
TJ Ryan’s side produced an impressive display in contrast to their loss to Clare a fortnight ago in Ennis.
The return of Na Piarsaigh All-Ireland club winners was crucial in helping them reach the semi-final stage of the league for the first time since 2006.
Ronan Lynch was influential as a sweeper in what was his senior inter-county debut, Shane Dowling chipped in with 0-6 and Kevin Downes 55th minute goal was a crucial score.
The intervention of goalkeeper Nickie Quaid minutes before Downes strike was also vital as he saved a David Treacy penalty.
Treacy did find the net in injury-time for Dublin but Limerick had done enough by that juncture to claim victory.
The game was a role reversal of last year’s quarter-final tie in Croke Park where Limerick produced a meek display against a Dublin side that were in terrific form as they cruised to a twelve-point victory.
Tonight’s clash opened with both sides picking off smart points as they were tied at 0-4 apiece by the 13th minute. But Limerick showed better spells of form in the opening half with Downes, Dowling and Gavin O’Mahony sending them 0-7 to 0-4 clear midway through the first-half.
Dublin rallied – largely through Treacy’s freetaking – to trial 0-9 to 0-7 before Limerick upped the ante once more before half-time to go 0-13 to 0-9 clear at the interval. Diarmuid Byrnes long-range point from half-back was a positive feature for TJ Ryan’s side.
Ger Cunningham’s team began the second-half impressively with Niall McMorrow and Darragh O’Connell both catching the eye with their contributions. By the 49th minute Dublin had drawn level at 0-15 apiece.
However the game then entered a critical phase. After Dillon was fouled by Richie McCarthy, Treacy could not bury the ball past Quaid.
And then in the 55th minute the work rate of James Ryan engineered the chance for Downes to plant the ball in the net.
Dublin responded to the concession of that goal with points from Dillon and O’Connell before Limerick started to sparkle again. Their substitutes made a mark in the scoring stakes with Paudie O’Brien and John Fitzgibbon both raising white flags.
They were five points clear when Dublin finally found the net in injury-time but Limerick had done enough to deserve to advance to a semi-final against Wexford or Waterford.
Scorers for Limerick: Shane Dowling 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ’65), Kevin Downes 1-2, Diarmuid Byrnes 0-3, Tom Morrissey, Gavin O’Mahony, Barry Nash 0-2 each, Ronan Lynch (0-1f), Paul Browne, John Fitzgibbon, Paudie O’Brien 0-1 each
Scorers for Dublin: David Treacy 1-8 (0-8f), Niall McMorrow 0-4, Eamon Dillon 0-3, Darragh O’Connell 0-2, Fiontan McGibb, David O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
1. Nickie Quaid (Effin)
17. Seanie O’Brien (Patrickswell)
3. Richie McCarthy (Blackrock)
4. Richie English (Doon)
6. Diarmaid Byrnes (Patrickswell)
5. Wayne McNamara (Adare)
8. Gavin O’Mahony (Kilmallock)
11. James Ryan (Garryspillane)
9. Paul Browne (Bruff)
15. Shane Dowling (Na Piarsaigh)
10. Barry Nash (South Liberties)
24. Tom Morrissey (Ahane)
13. Graeme Mulcahy (Kilmallock)
14. Kevin Downes (Na Piarsaigh)
7. Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh)
19. Paudie O’Brien (Kilmallock) for McNamara (50)
23. Gearoid Hegarty (St Patrick’s) for Mulcahy (54)
21. John Fitzgibbon (Adare) for Dowling (59)
12. Cian Lynch (Patrickswell) for Morrissey (64)
1. Conor Dooley (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
2. Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille)
3. Cian O’Callaghan (Cuala)
4. Oisin Gough (Cuala)
17. James Madden (Ballyboden St-Enda’s)
6. Liam Rushe (St Pat’s Palmerstown)
7. Chris Crummey (Lucan Sarsfields)
8. Darragh O’Connell (Cuala)
9. Johnny McCaffrey (Lucan Sarsfields)
10. Seán McGrath (Kilmacud Crokes)
11. Niall McMorrow (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
12. David Treacy (Cuala)
13. David O’Callaghan (Ballyboden St Enda’s)
23. Fiontan McGibb (Setanta)
15. Eamonn Dillon (Naomh Fionnbarra)
20. Daire Plunkett (St Brigid’s) for McGrath (20)
14. Mark Schutte (Cuala) for McGibb (49)
5. Shane Barrett (Na Fianna) for Madden (60)
19. Ben Quinn (Crumlin) for McCaffrey (65)
21. Oisin O’Rorke (Kilmacud Crokes) for O’Callaghan (67)
Referee: Brian Gavin (Offaly)
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